History of The North American Packgoat Association
The North American Packgoat Association was founded in 1999 by a group of goat packers at the first rendezvous held in Carson, Washington at the Wind River Work Center on Forest Service land.
It was named this as we wanted to encompass more than the USA as we had Canadian members right from the start, also we wanted a name that reflected cooperation among goat packing and common interests, hence the word ‘association’, reflecting a spirit of common ground.
The name is pronounced NAP-GA, as the name NAPA was already taken by an auto parts franchise. While the Packgoat email list on the Internet was hashing all of this out, we also agreed to the name Packgoat as opposed to making it two words, pack goat, since packhorse is the preferred way of referring to horses that pack. Just a bit of historical minutiae.
Much of the history of NAPgA is archived in Goat Tracks magazine’s articles and the archives of of the eMail list firstname.lastname@example.org. Goat Tracks was started by Ellen McMaster and John Mionczynski with the first published edition in Fall 1995.
NAPgA was the brainchild of George Bogdan, Mike Silverman and Carolyn Eddy. It came after the Sawtooth National Forest attempted to regulate goat packing to include things such as high lining, leading on trails and tethering in camp, issues that have plagued us until today. George and Mike wanted to contest this ruling and with Carolyn’s help successfully challenged that rule to the regional level and got allowances for Packgoats to operate under their own set of regulations. (Unfortunately, these were later overruled.)
It was obvious to the three of us that a national organization was going to be necessary to help with these issues nationwide as goat packer’s otherwise had no voice in public land use management.
After a lot of brainstorming between George and Carolyn and public comment through Goat Tracks, the first meeting of NAPgA was held at the first rendezvous. There were 29 people present. There was a great deal of suspicion at first that one or another interest group within the goat packing community was going to try to take over and make us all do goat packing “their way”. There had been lots of comments on this subject prior to the meeting, but things got better when we all sat down in the same space and discussed our fears and hopes for goat packing. A committee was formed to go forward with all this and further information and discussions were held online on the Packgoat list. This was prior to the easy availability of chat rooms we have now.
Carolyn discussed this with John Mioncznski and was warned that “going public” would possibly result in more harm than good. His fear was that people would be attracted to the sport for reasons that would be detrimental to the sport itself and sheer numbers would create problems with the land use managers. This has since come true in some ways, not in others. But, the numbers were sure to come, and in our eyes, there needed to be some way to disseminate good information about goat packing to the numbers that were coming.
Prior to the Rendy an article was published in Goat Tracks that asked the question, “A National Organization, Is It Time?” It discusses the lack of public visibility and the advantages of going public. It also discusses the need for information and education for new packgoat owners. The Packgoat list had generated a list of possible names for this organization and readers were asked to vote on their favorite.
Billed as the “FIRST EVER GOATPACKER”S RENDEZVOUS” the 1999 rendy was not a NAPgA event. It offered a meeting were we could discuss the possibility of such a group, but also offered vendors, speakers on subjects such as orienteering, search and rescue demonstrations, and hiking on the Pacific Crest Trail. George Bogdan spoke about the need for a national organization and a meeting was held to discuss the need for one.
Prior to the formation of NAPgA there were local clubs forming around an interest in packgoats, with one of the aims to be introducing the public to goat packing through participation in fairs, presentations to land managers and hikes and playdays. Treasure Valley Packgoat Club was the first club of its’ kind, formed in Caldwell County, Idaho. George Bogdan started this club and many of the members are still active in Packgoats. It was followed by the Cascade Packgoat Club in Northern Oregon, formed by Becki Todd Riebesehl and Carolyn Eddy, which is still a very active club.
The third club formed was the oddly located Big Sky Packgoat Club in the Pine Barrens area of New Jersey. It was formed by Linda Jedju. This was a very active club for a few years. It was followed by the Evergreen Packgoat Club, which is still active in Olympia, Washington. All of these clubs offered opportunities for new goat owners to get advice, go on hikes with like-minded goat owners and to help educate the public through presentations and fairs.
At this time, NAPgA has no process to affiliate clubs with itself, so clubs are not automatically NAPgA entities. But most clubs have participated in sponsoring at least one national rendezvous. Some clubs are political in speaking out to land managers, some avoid it.
In 1998 Carolyn Eddy put together a survey to try to find all the identified Packgoats in the USA. People were encouraged to turn in numbers of their and their neighbor’s Packgoats. The number of goats we could find through publishing in Goat Tracks magazine was 549. Based on this and a number of letters describing dialogues with land managers, Carolyn decided to put together a brochure for people to use that would contain accurate information about goats and goat packing. The information was developed by consensus of the information posted on the Packgoat email list, with photos donated from there also. Donations of items were made and enough money was generated, (about $3,000) to print these brochures in color and disseminate the first printing for free. The second and third printing the brochures were sold for $.10 each until the money was all gone. These were to be primarily placed in Forest Service and other land manager’s offices. The official NAPgA brochure that is on the NAPgA website is a rewrite of this original brochure, done in black and white so that it is easily copied. This brochure was also written by consensus and the text is not to be changed without NAPgA’s permission.
Marilyn Manguba, a wildlife biologist from Idaho was our first president.
The first few years were rocky, with a number of people trying to be the voice of Packgoats who didn’t want to work as a team with the rest of the goat packing community. Terri Dimaggio, our second president, did a fine job of consolidating and organizing the ranks and got us moving in a cohesive direction.
Other presidents have been Jim Bennett, Jan Huffaker and currently Larry Robinson.
(I plan to write more in depth about the rendies and people who have made NAPgA the organization it currently is in the complete book.)